Back nesting with Steelers: Devlin ‘Duck’ Hodges returns to practice | TribLIVE.com
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Chris Adamski

After migrating south for a week and a half, “Duck” was back in his nest at UPMC Rooney Sports Complex.

Signed to the Pittsburgh Steelers practice squad Tuesday, quarterback Devlin “Duck Dynasty” Hodges got plenty of practice reps Wednesday with starter Ben Roethlisberger taking his typical veteran’s day off.

A rookie from Samford who set the NCAA FCS career passing yardage record, Hodges takes over as the No. 3 quarterback after the Monday trade of Josh Dobbs to the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Hodges was among the final cuts Aug. 31 after an impressive showing during training camp.

“They said I did a good job this preseason,” Hodges said of the conversation when informed he was cut, “and (they) told me, ‘Hey, you need to go back and work out because you never know what I can happen.’

“I am sure a lot of people say that, and I didn’t think that would happen so quick, so soon, just a week later. It was a nice little week home, but I am happy to be back and happy to be back around the guys in the locker room.”

Hodges earned the nickname “Duck Dynasty” (or “Duck” for short) because the Alabama native won a national duck-calling national as a youth.

No, he said Wednesday, he did not spent any of his nine days away from the Steelers doing any duck hunting.

“Duck season is over, plus it’s too hot,” Hodges said.

He said it was an opportunity to clear his mind after a whirlwind from draft prep, the rookie minicamp tryout in May, organized team activities, veteran minicamp, training camp and the preseason.

Although this marks the first time in coach Mike Tomlin’s 13 seasons the Steelers have not carried three quarterbacks on their 53-man roster, functionally, Hodges’ job description is the same as if he were on the active roster.

“Whether I am practice squad or active, I am the No. 3 quarterback,” Hodges said. “I go to all the meetings, and I learn. I know all the installs that we put in, I know the gameplan each week. I am still involved just like I was when I was here before I left and just like any other active quarterback.”

Hodges typically will direct the scout team during the practice week, but on days Roethlisberger is out he will get to run the offense.

Hodges was not drafted, in large part, because he stands just 6-foot-1. He broke Steve McNair’s 24-year-old FCS career passing yardage record, finishing with 14,584 in 45 games.

Upon arriving in Pittsburgh, Hodges posted a pair of lighthearted messages to his verified Twitter account that accumulated almost 7,000 likes.

“I never thought I would tweet a little cartoon picture of a duck with a Steelers jersey and get all the reaction and stuff that I had,” Hodges said. “It’s awesome. It’s an awesome fanbase that is even behind guys like me who are the third-team quarterback, practice-squad guy.”

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